It's just over a month since I visited Innsbruck for the TBU conference yet the small town nestled between the Austrian Alps have left a lasting impression on me.
Arriving a little after midnight I didn't get the full effect of the surrounding area until I awoke the following morning, opened the curtains and my gaze was instantly drawn to the sight of a slate gray topped mountain running into the the deep green leaved trees and finally the pointed church steeples and the red tiled rooftops.
Admittedly I hadn't really read much about Innsbruck, or even Austria, before I left so to find myself in the shadow of the Alps left me quite surprised. In fact I haven't seen much of Europe other than Paris, Barcelona and Brussels so to find Innsbruck just a few hours away from home added to the wonder.
Getting my bearings around InnsbruckWith a few hours to spare before greeting fellow bloggers at our venue I took the time to explore the town on foot, which it easily done as the main centre of Innsbruck is flat. For those that want to get around quicker, then there is a regular tram system that can take you around that little bit faster.
My hotel lay close to the River Inn where I looked across the pink, green, white and orange five and six storey building on the far side. These are sort of picture postcard images you see of Europe but I'd mainly associated with photos I'd seen of Norway.
Heading into the centre of Innsbruck the streets become cobbled and are mainly pedestrian though you do get the odd taxi or delivery van bobbling down the narrow alleyways.
Don't forget to look up for the Golden RoofI soon came out beneath the Golden Roof, probably the town's most famous landmark, however the first time I passed I was oblivious to it. There are neon signs pointing you in that direction, unless you look up or approach from a different angle you may also miss it. Built by Archduke Friedrich IV for Emperor Maximillian I in 1500, it was intended as a Royal Box to watch tournaments in the square below. This area can get busy with tourists happily snapping away but at around 9.30 in the morning it was very quiet except for the local restaraunters washing down the cobbles outside their establishment ready for another day's trading.
That was something that struck me quite early on. Innsbruck seems a very clean and tidy place. I don't recall seeing any litter yet at the same time I never saw any cleaners. On the outside It appeared that residents take pride in their town and keep the streets tidy - something many towns in the UK can learn from!
A nice cup of coffee or a "I love Austria" hat?The street to the right holds a funny combination with a little butchers selling a range of meats and a small delicatessant, where I bought my coffee and strudel from every morning, that sit alongside a string of souvenir shops selling the type of tacky reminders that you find in most cities around the world.
They all lead in the direction of the Imperial Palace, a Gothic style castle completed in 1465. Inside you can walk around the high ceilinged halls with stunning artwork on them. Rooms have been recreated with original furniture to give a sense of what life would have been like in its heyday.
Stepping outside the front of the Imperial Palace my gaze was drawn back to the backdrop to this fascinating little town. Over the course of the week, the weather had turned slightly and when the clouds had cleared, a dusting of snow had attached itself to the upper reaches of the mountain.
In awe of the Tirolean MountainsAt the end of the street the Alpine funicular railway was ready to take passengers up to Hubgerburgbahn and those peaks and whilst in Innsbruck I did some hiking in the Austrian Alps.
Innsbruck has left a lasting impression on me for many reasons. It has the history expected of a central European town, yet it has kept up with modern culture without spoiling itself. It is small enough to get around on foot and explore and doesn't get crowded with tourists during the summer.
However I think the overwhelming memory is the view I saw on that first morning. I've been to places with higher mountains and more striking peaks but being able to turn a corner within the town and still be surprised to see them.
Have you been to Innsbruck? What did you like or dislike about the town?